Living where you work has its down-side

Unlike most other Arctic archaeologists, I live where I work.  My house is less than 10 miles from the site I am currently working on, and there are other sites closer than that.  In general, that’s a good thing, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but like so much else in life, it’s not an unmixed blessing.

PROS OF LIVING WHERE YOU WORK

  • Community members can take part in all parts of the project, and can find you to ask questions whenever they want.
  • No long expensive trips to get to the field.
  • Logistics can be arranged before the field season, by talking to people you know or making local phone calls.
  • Gear doesn’t have to be shipped to and from the field, at great expense.
  • If you run out of Ziplocs during the season, you can get more at the grocery store (assuming they haven’t run out, of course.)
  • The artifacts get to the lab every night, after a short trip, and can be treated and stabilized quickly if necessary.
  • The artifacts stay in the community.
  • You get to sleep in your own comfortable bed.
  • You get to cook meals in a real kitchen and go to restaurants, instead of having to eat only things that everyone else will eat too. (Arctic archaeology is hard work, and camp cooking can’t get so far off the beaten track that some folks won’t eat it.)
  • You have access to laundry equipment.
  • You’ve got your professional library handy if something unexpected shows up.
  • You have a good computer and internet access.

CONS OF LIVING WHERE YOU WORK

  • No long expensive trips to get to the field, so people can’t understand why you can’t take a day off during the field season, or don’t want to run out at midnight to see some archaeology they just found.
  • You get to sleep in your own comfortable bed (so you stay warm and can’t eat unlimited amounts of fat and sugar and still lose weight during the field season, so you have to exercise & watch your diet the rest of the year 😦 ).
  • You get to cook meals in a real kitchen (which means you have to cook and clean up, even if you’re exhausted.)
  • You have access to laundry equipment (which means you are expected not to wear the same clothes for 6 weeks, or at least to wash them frequently if you do, so you don’t get out of doing laundry.)
  • You’ve got your professional library handy so you feel like you should be writing professional material in your spare time.
  • You have a good computer and internet access so people expect you to respond to all email just as fast as when you’re not in the field, as well as doing all the work-related tasks you do then (like approving time sheets, etc.).

As you can see, the cons are pretty much personal convenience things, and being here makes the archaeology better and makes it possible to involve local high school students in a way that would be impossible if I didn’t live here.  Aside from the time away from home and school issue (not a minor one with high-stakes testing), no funding agency would pay for a bunch of high school students (& chaperones) to spend weeks somewhere else so they could be part of the lab work.

Right now, I’m trying to get as much “housekeeping” type stuff out-of-the-way, both at work and at home, as I can before the fieldwork starts on July 5.   No way I’m going to get through the to-do before the field list.  Oh well.

One thought on “Living where you work has its down-side

  1. This sounds really familiar. I work out of my home now and in the past I worked on a community archaeology project in Newfoundland with an extremely long field season. The sites we worked on were within walking ditance of the house we lived in. It wasn’t my primary residence thorughout the year, but I found those long field seasons exhausting and the community boundaries between the job and personal time were pretty fuzzy. The attention was novel at first, but after a few years I found the only way to get any real time off was to physically leave the town on evenings or weekends. Simply going home wasn’t enough to get away from the job and the expectations.

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